clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Sunday Standings: 3 teams, 2 Wild Card spots, 1 crazy end to Penguins’ season

The Penguins heat up the Wild Card race with three losses

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Pittsburgh Penguins v New York Rangers Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Three straight losses by the Pittsburgh Penguins this week have made the East’s Wild Card race a lot more interesting than is was — or needed to be, but here we are.

The top six seeds are all but secure - there is a small chance the Devils could get it in gear and take first in the Metro, or that Tampa and Toronto could trade off home ice advantage in a minor switch, but otherwise very little drama at the top.

However, the Wild Card has gotten spicy, cutting out teams with less than a 1% playoff chance at the moment, the race looks like this.

The Penguins have had a lot of bad losses this season or let points slip away — but even besides blowing three leads against the Islanders — blowing Tuesday night’s game against lowly Montreal might be the worst result of the season. And losing those two points puts Pittsburgh’s playoff chances in a real bind, for the first time this season.

Meanwhile, the New York Islanders have kept the pressure up by winning in California this week against the two bad teams (Anaheim and San Jose) after losing to the good team out that way (Los Angeles). The Islanders come back East this week for games against Toronto, Columbus and Buffalo.

The Florida Panthers did this week what the Penguins should have done — by scoring early and often to beat Montreal 9-5. Then Florida got a surprising result in a 4-2 win against New Jersey last night. Florida has been on a roll lately, two weeks ago they beat the Pens 4-1 and since that game they are 5-0-1, making a run to get back into the playoff hunt.

Pittsburgh knows all about those type of runs, they were 7-1-1 before that dreaded Montreal game, and now after a trip to New York and two losses to the Rangers, are suddenly losers of three straight. Those types of swings and long streaks have been the story of the season for the Pens, who have not been able to stay out of their own way long enough to stop going on prolonged streaks to give up all the ground they cover when they are winning.

With only 13 games left, mistakes like the ones made against the Canadiens are amplified in meaning. The Pens can only blame themselves when they watch NYI and FLA catch up to them in the standings.

Penguin playoff chances:

Here’s some of the latest modeling on the Pens’ chances

Hockey Viz (3/18): 75.0%
The Athletic (3/18): 79.0%
Money Puck: 64.4%
538 Hockey: 60%
Hockey Reference: 59.7%

One on hand, it’s somewhat encouraging and an important reminder to see that despite the three-game losing streak, the Penguins have a better than decent shot to qualify for the playoffs this season. However, on the other hand, they were also 80%+ on almost every model just 7-10 days ago — this kind of fall-off is drastic and needs to be stopped immediately. Especially as the Islanders and Panthers win a few games recently.